External factors forcing change on education: How can they work for us ?

Essay by dawood July 2004

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External Factors Forcing Change on

Education: How can they work for us?

I am very pleased with the opportunity to make some remarks at this

second National Conference on Science and Mathematics Education Reform.

Every participant here this morning is committed to change; each of you

understands the need for systemic reform; and each of you has a genuine

desire to help America and its children grow in intellectual achievement.

I can only admi re your efforts and urge you to persevere with your

difficult task. Despite my disadvantage in knowing a lot less about

education than anyone in this room, I hope that I can offer some small

contribution to your deliberations.

My knowledge has been improved recently by the opportunity to visit

tw o schools from my own congressional district that are part of the

California Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI), called the California

Advocacy for Mathematics and Science or CAMS.

I will comment on some of

the things I observed on that visit later in my remarks.

However, I would like to focus my remarks largely on some of the

external factors that are forcing changes on education. I have therefore

titled my comments, External Factors Forcing Change on Education: How can

they work for us? First, however, I would ask you to reflect for a

moment on the term "educational reform." This term is so common in our

discourse that it has become "mental boilerplate." If, however, we pause

to consider each word for its genuine meaning, I believe we can discover a

guiding principle for our work.

Education means drawing out of you what is already in there, not

merely instilling something new. Thus our task must be driven by the

recognition that each person comes to education with potential drawn from

his or her...